Sáng kiến kinh nghiệm môn tiếng anh




1.1 Background and the reason for the study:


When you read a composition or a story, you sometimes utter “How good is it!”. Apart from the content, there are some other factors greatly contributing to the effectiveness of writing.

Very often we do not realize the importance of the things we see everyday. The Adjectives and Adjective phrases are one of such those things.

Have you ever seen a text without adjective phrases ? or Have you ever paid much attention to the most common pre-modifying type of noun phrases?

Now, we have a look at the following story.

“ It’s illegal to drive under the age of seventeen in Britain, but a 17-year-old boy managed to pass his driving on the day of his seventeenth birthday. Most people would consider this impossible because you need a lot of lessons to pass the test. David Livesery arranged to have an eight-hour lesson beginning at dawn on his birthday. At first he was very careful and hesitant, but he had a wonderful teacher and his driving improved amazingly during the day. By four in the afternoon,still feeling energetic, he was ready to take his test and he drive home very slowly in the reddish light of the setting sun. David’s driving attracted the attention of two policemen, but they broke into smiles and congratulated him warmly when he showed them his certificate and told them his story.

With the appearance of the Adjectives and Adjective phrases , the above story either makes you interested or makes an impression on you, doesn’t it ?

Obviously,to make good use of English as much as possible, people are required to master all aspects of English, both a complicated system of structures and that of vocabularies.

In English, Adjectives and Adjective phrases  is a neither small nor simple category. Due to its different functions by syntax and by semantic, the Adjective phrase is both of great occurrence in all kinds of writing and plays an important role in making good essays, especially descriptive compositions.  Moreover, it is said that the Vietnamese language is plentiful and various.Therefore, the Adjectives and Adjective phrases themselves make a contribution to the variety and richness of the language.

On the whole, using adjective phrases are quite common and advantageous.

The most important reason why I vote for this study has derived from the mistakes  my students have made while they are speaking and writing .

Owing to the above reasons, I have made up my mind to choose The uses of Adjectives and Adjective phrases  in English as my topic of the study.


1.2 Aims of the study:

With the reasons above in my mind, the specific aims of the study accordingly are:

+ To present the uses of Adjectives and  Adjective phrases and Vietnamese equivalents.

+To point out some similarities and differences in the uses of Adjectives and  Adjective phrases.

+ To suggest some techniques in teaching  Adjectives and Adjective phrases.


+ To give out some practical exercises for the further understanding of the English Adjective phrases.

            In the limitation of time, I intend to deal with something about the theory of  the Adjectives and Adjective phrases in English  and point out some similarities and differrnces in the uses of Adjectives and Adjective phrases to help English learners to make good use of them.

I am not planning on studying a larger population, just the population at a high school .


1.3. Methods of the study :

* A study on theoretical background from Methodological books and materials.

* Survey questionnaire.

* Personal observations by attending classes.


1.4. Design  and rationale of the study :

* This study consists of 3 parts and an appendix:

  1. Part I is the introduction.
  2. Part II is the theoretical background; the investigation and application .
  3. Part III is the conclusion. The Reference and Appendix are the last parts of the study

* Data collections for analysis in this study come from students of Tuy Phuoc I High school: 50 students from the eleventh form and 50 students from the twelveth form.







2.1 Definition of  Adjectives :

The book critic R. Z Sheppard once remarked that adjectives “are the potbelly of poetry”.   Many English language teachers would not take such a disparaging view. Adjectives are often quite fun to teach and the rules surrounding them are, usually, quite straightforward. This month’s article is the first of two in which we throw the spotlight on adjectives. We start by looking at adjectives in relation to the wider phrasal structures they occur in, examining issues of position, complementation, and ordering.

When we want to give more information than can be provided by using a noun alone, we can add an adjective to identify a person or thing, or describe them in more detail, e.g.:

her new dress

a kind person

the phonetic alphabet

accuracy is important

Note that sometimes nouns can be placed before other nouns as a way of identifying a particular type of person or thing, e.g.:

a chocolate cake

the football player

Nouns used in this way are usually referred to as noun modifiers. Though they are functioning in a similar way to some adjectives, we classify them as nouns. Examples like this are often referred to as compound nouns, with the first noun identifying a particular type in relation to the group of people or things described by the second noun.In the following article, we will focus on true adjectives, rather than noun modifiers.

2.1.1. Position of adjectives:


Most adjectives can appear before a noun as part of a noun phrase, placed after determiners or numbers if there are any, and immediately before the noun, e.g.:

She had a beautiful smile

He bought two brown bread rolls.

Adjectives placed before a noun in this way are generally referred to as occurring in the attributive position.

Most adjectives can also occur as complements of the verb be and other link verbs such as become, feel or seem, e.g.:

Her smile is beautiful.

She didn’t seem happy.

Adjectives placed after the verb in this way are generally referred to as occurring in the predicative position.

When the information contained in an adjective is not the main focus of a statement, then the adjective is usually placed before the noun in the attributive position.

However, when the main focus of a statement is to give the information contained in an adjective, the adjective is usually placed after the verb in the predicative position, compare:

He handed me a bucket of hot water. (attributive position)

I put my hand in the bucket, the water was very hot. (predicative position, emphasising hot.)

Though most adjectives can be used in both the attributive and predicative positions, there are a number of adjectives that can occur in one particular position only, as described below:

2.1.2. Position: attributive only

There are some adjectives which can only be used before a noun, in the attributive position. For instance, “We talk about the main problem” but cannot say “The problem was main”.

Adjectives which occur only in the attributive position are generally those which identify something as being of a particular type. For instance, we can talk about a financial decision where financial distinguishes this from other types of decision, e.g.: medical, political. This group of adjectives are often referred to as classifying adjectives, and rarely occur in the predicative position unless we specifically want to emphasise a contrast, e.g.:

a chemical reaction not, e.g.: a reaction which was/is chemical

the phonetic alphabet not, e.g.: the alphabet is phonetic

It was an indoor pool. not, e.g.: The pool was indoor

Other adjectives which generally appear in the attributive position are those which are used for emphasis, e.g.:

The show was absolute/utter rubbish.

You made me look a complete fool.

The project was a total disaster.

2.1.3. Position: predicative only


There are some adjectives which only usually occur in the predicative position, as complements of be or other link verbs. For instance, you can say He felt glad. but wouldn’t normally talk about a glad person.

Adjectives which usually occur in the predicative position include those which describe feelings, such as afraid, content, glad, ready, sure, sorry and upset, e.g.:

She felt afraid. but not, e.g.: an afraid girl

My daughter is upset. but not, e.g.: my upset daughter

They also include a group of adjectives with prefix a-, such as asleep, alive, alone, ashamed, awake, aware, e.g.:

I like being alone. but not, e.g.: I like being an alone person.

The baby’s asleep. but not, e.g.: the asleep baby.

2.1.4. Position: immediately after nouns

Some adjectives that describe size or age can occur immediately after a noun that indicates a unit of measurement, e.g.:

She was about five feet tall

Her baby is ten months old.

The walls were six inches thick.

There is a small group of adjectives, sometimes referred to as post nominal adjectives, which can only occur immediately after a noun. Examples are:

the president elect

the devil incarnate

Many other adjectives can be used immediately after a noun when they form part of a (reduced) relative clause, e.g.:

Let’s use the time available.

Is she someone capable of making difficult decisions?

I’d like to speak to all the people involved.


2.1.5. Position and meaning


There are some adjectives which can occur either before or after a noun, but the position they occur in has an effect on their meaning, e.g.:

  • the concerned parents (= ‘the parents who are worried’)
  • the parents concerned (= ‘the parents who are involved/mentioned’)
  • the present situation (= ‘the situation which exists now’)
  • the people present (= ‘the people who are here/there’).
  • a responsible person (= ‘a person who is sensible/reliable’)
  • the person responsible (= ‘the person who is to blame or has responsibility for something’)

2.1. 6. Adjective complementation

When adjectives occur in the predicative position, after be or other link verbs, they are sometimes followed by a prepositional phrase or verbal complement. Some typical examples are summarised in the table below:

Patterns Typical adjectives Examples
Adjective + of aware, proud, capable She was proud of her son.
Adjective + to kind, sensitive, similar, equal Her house is similar to mine.
Adjective + with angry, impatient, honest I felt angry with him.
Adjective + on keen, gentle, dependent Hes totally dependent on his parents.
Adjective + in interested, disappointed Were not interested in selling our house.
Adjective + about pleased, glad, anxious She was anxious about the results.
Adjective + to-infinitive difficult, easy, ready The book was easy to read.
Adjective + that-clause worried, confident, sure Im confident that shell succeed.
Adjective + wh-clause unsure, uncertain He was uncertain what to do next.
Adjective + -ing busy, silly, awkward Theyre busy painting the kitchen.


2.1.7. Order of adjectives

Adjectives describing the main characteristics of a person or thing are often grouped together before the noun they describe, e.g.:

a beautiful young woman

a large round table

Two or three descriptive adjectives are often used together in this way, though note that placing more than three adjectives before a noun would start to sound unnatural, e.g.:

a beautiful wooden table

sounds fine, but a structure like:

a beautiful large round carved wooden table

though grammatical, would not normally occur in everyday speech or writing.Descriptive adjectives used in this way belong to seven main types. The table below summarises the types and the usual order in which they appear if more than one adjective is placed before a noun:

  • 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
  • opinion size age shape colour origin material
  • lovely big old triangular white Italian wooden

For example, if you wanted to use an adjective referring to size and an adjective referring to shape, you would put the size adjective first, e.g.:

a large round table

Similarly, an age adjective would normally be placed before an origin adjective, e.g.:

a young Italian woman

An opinion adjective would occur before a shape or colour adjective, and a shape or colour adjective would occur before a material adjective, e.g.:

a beautiful green silk dress

If two colour adjectives are used, then and is placed between them, e.g.:

She was wearing a long black and gold scarf.

If three colour adjectives occur, a comma is placed after the first and the last two are linked with and, e.g.:

The table was covered by a large red, white and blue flag.

As a general rule, the adjective which is closest to the noun is the most closely linked to the meaning of the noun, describing a feature which is the most permanent about it, compared to adjectives which express a variable characteristic, such as an opinion. For instance, if we consider:

an expensive/cheap/beautiful black leather bag

the ‘leather-ness’ of the bag is a more essential characteristic than ‘cost’ or ‘appearance’.

If more than one adjective occurs which expresses an opinion or describes a general quality, then the adjective with a more general meaning, e.g.: nice, bad usually precedes the one with a more specific meaning, e.g.: comfortable, clean, for example:

a lovely soft blanket

If two adjectives with similar meanings are used, the shorter one often comes first, e.g.:

a soft comfortable pillow

The conjunction but is sometimes placed between two adjectives which describe contrasting qualities, e.g.:

a difficult but rewarding job

The order of adjectives in predicative position, i.e.: after the verb be or link verbs such as seem or feel, is less fixed than the order before a noun. The conjunction and is generally used to link adjectives in this position, occurring before the last adjective used, e.g.:

The room was small and dirty.

He felt cold, wet and hungry.

Adjectives expressing opinion are often placed last, e.g.:

Annabel was young, tall and beautiful.

If we want to imply a contrast between adjectives, the conjunction but is sometimes used, e.g.:

            The flat was small but comfortable.


2.2 Definition of  Adjective phrases:

First of all, let’s have a look at the definition of phrases and adjectival phrases .

Phrases are considered as the second level of classification as they tend to be larger than individual words, but are smaller than sentences. We refer to the central element in a phrase as the head of the phrase. If the head is a noun then the phrase is called a noun phrase.

Adjectival phrases are composed of the adjectives that modify a noun and any adverbs or other elements that modify those adjectives. Adjectival phrases always occur inside noun phrases or as predicate adjectives.
Example: Dad bought [(a blue and green) sweater]

The adjective phrase is a phrase that functions as an adjective:

The brothers were always quarrelsome.                                           [ 14;13]

Or the adjective phrase  is a phrase in which the adjective is the head:

They were quite unware of any wrongdoing.

In order to make adjective phrases more simple and convenient to research, I’d like to give out the definition of an adjective phrase as follows:

An adjective phrase is a word or a group of words functioning in a sentence like an adjective. It contains an adjective as the head optionally accompanied by modifiers in the form of single words, phrases or clauses.

2.3 The uses of Adjectives and Adjective phrases:

          Adjectives and adjective phrases are of common occurrence. To make good use of adjectives and adjective phrases, it is necessary to know well about the following:

2.3.1. The semantic roles of adjectives and adjective phrases :

It is said that the adjective is the “soul” of an adjective phrases. Therefore, in order to research more convenient we consider that the semantic roles of adjective phrases are like those of adjectives.

Semantically, R.Quirk and S.Greenbaun divided adjectives into subclasses: (1)stative verus dynamic adjectives, (2) gradable verus non-gradable adjectives. (3) inherent verus non-inherent adjectives.

(1) Stative verus dynamic adjectives:

A Stative adjective                              A Dynamic adjective

Hes being tall                          Hes being careful

Be tall                                      Be careful

        Adjectives that can be used dynamic include: awkard, brave,calm,careless, cruel,extravagant, foolish,funny, good,impudent, irritable,jealous,naughty,noisy,and rude.

Stative adjectives include: kind,lazy,stupid,generous, obstinate, tactful, interesting,busy.

(2) Gradable verus non-gradable adjectives:

Most adjectives are gradable, that is to say, can be modified by adverbs which convey the degree of intensity of the adjective. Gradability includes comparison:

tall                                 taller                     tallest

           beautiful                       more beautiful               most beautiful

          And other forms of intensification:

very young           so plain                          extremely useful

All dynamic adjectives are gradable. Most stative adjectives (tall,old) are gradable, some are non-gradable, principally “technical adjectives” like atomic (scientist) and hydrochloric (acid) and adjectives denoting provenance, e.g.: British.

(3) Inherent verus non-inherent adjectives.

          Adjectives that characterize the referent of the noun directly are termed INHERENT; those that do not are termed NON-INHERENT.

Most adjectives are inherent, and it is especially uncommon for dynamic adjectives to be other than inherent, an exception is “wooden” in the actor is being wooden.,whicj is dynamic and non-inherent.

Whether or not an adjective is inherent or non-inherent, it may involve relation to an implicit or explicit standard. “ Big” is inherent in “ a big mouse”, the standard being the relative size of mice, contrast “a little mouse”. “Big” is non-inherent in “a big fool”, the standard being degree of foolishness, contrast “a big of a fool”. The relative standard is to be distinguished from gradability as well as from the inherent/non-inherent contrast. For example, “perfect” and “good” are non-inherent in “a perfect mother” and “ a good mother”, the standard being motherhood, but only good is gradable ( a very good mother, a very perfect mother). Similarly, though the inherent “big” in “ a big elephant” is gradable (a very big elephant), the inherent adjective in an enormous noun is not gradable ( a very enormous noun)

In another aspect, Randolph.Quirk distinguishes two broad semantic groups of adjectives: descriptors and classifiers. Descriptors are prototypal adjectives denoting such features as color, size, and weight, chronology and age, emotion and a wide range of other characteristics. They are typically gradable. In contrast, the primary function of classifiers is to delimit or restrict a noun’s referent, by placing it in a category in relation to other referents. They are typically non-gradable. Classifiers can be grouped into subclasses, including relational, afflictive and a miscellaneous topical class. Classifiers can be more or less descriptive content while many topical classifiers (such as chemical, medical,political) provide descriptive content while also limiting the reference of the head noun.

Selected examples of adjectives belonging to these semantic domains are:

(1) Descriptors:

Descriptors can be divided into subclasses, including:


+ COLOR– denoting color,brightness: black,white,dark,bright,blue,brown,green,grey,red.

Eg:    The passenger turned quite green with sea-sick.

          Life seemed grey and pointless after she’d gone.

+ SIZE/QUANTITY/EXTENTdenoting size,weight,extent:big,deep,heavy,huge,long,large,little,short,small,thin,wide.

Eg:      Lead is a heavy metal

          You’ve cut my hair very short.

+ TIME– denoting chronology, age, frequency: annual,daily,early,late,new,old,recent,young.

Eg:      There is an early train every Saturday.

          Ours is a recent accquaintance.

+ EVALUATIVE/EMOTIVE– denoting judment, affect,emphasis: bad,beautiful,best,fine,good,great,lovely,nice,poor.

Eg:      The car has very good brakes.

+ MISCELLANEOUS DESCRIPTIVEappropriate, cold,complex,dead,empty,free,hard,hot,open,possitive,practical,pirate,serious,strange,strong,sudden.

Eg:      That’s a good film.

          Especially if you can get the right price.

(2) Classifiers

Classifiers can be grouped into subclasses:

+ RELATIONAL/CLASSIFICATIONAL/RESTRICTIVE– delimiting the referent of a noun, particularly in relation to other referents: additional,overage,chief,complete,different,direct,entire,external,final,following,general,



+ AFFILIATIVEdesigning the national or religious group to which a referent belongs: American,Chinese,Christian,English,French, German,Irish,united.

+ TOPICAL/OTHER (e.g. giving the subject area or showing a relationaship with a noun): chemical,commercial,environmental,human,industrial,legal,medical,mental,official,oral,


In the following excerpt, descriptor adjectives are underlined with classifiers marked by [ ]

It has never lost an artist from its record label, supposedly because it consists of many small and friendly [individual] companies(…)

              Fujisankei,itself privately owned and independent,seems the ideal partner.

              But the question must remain as to whether a [Japanese] giant with five times the

              turnover of the Virgin group will be content to stay a minority player in the long

              term. (news)

Some adjectives can serve as either classifiers or descriptors. Below, the expressions in the left-hand column contain a classifying or restricting adjective, while those in the right-hand column a descriptor. It is noted that the desriptors are gradable and can be modified to show degree or extent. E.g.:by very.

Classifier                                                      Descriptor

modern algebra                                  some modern authorities

          criminal law                              criminal activity

          a secondary school                            a useful secondary function

Very   common adjective typically designate a range of meanings. For example, in some expressions old is descriptive, denoting age (an old radio,old newspapers). In others, it denotes affect (poor old Rusty,good old genetics). Similarly “ poor” has two principal uses: emotive (the poor devil, You poor bunny!) and descriptive (a poor country, in poor health). Even the descriptive uses of poor carry: different denotations such as “ lacking adequate financial resources” and “ not good”.

2.3.2. The syntactic roles of adjectives and adjective phrases :

Adjectives function syntactically only in adjective phrases, but since it is  the adjective that generally determines the funtion of adjective phrases, we have found it convenient to use adjectives alone to illustrate the functions of adjective phrases and we have often referred to adjectives as a shorter way of referring to adjective phrases.

The functions of adjectives and adjective phrases in phrases can be shown in the following table:


(pre-modifier(s)) ADJECTIVES (post-modifier(s))
adverb (intensifier), e.g. very / perfectly / extremely good, nice, rich, happy, wide, bright, uncertain, possible, glad, busy, easier, worse, better prepositional phrase, e.g. at maths, about this
 adverb (viewpoint), e.g. technically / theoretically adverb, enough / indeed
noun, e.g. sixteen feet / two kilometres that-clause, e.g. that you’re careful
to-infinitive clause, e.g. to hear from you
ing-clause, e.g. handing out letters
comparative clause, e.g. than they say

Examples of postadjectival modification:

  • by a prepositional phrase: e.g. conscious of, fond of, happy about, good at, sorry for, different from, due to, happy with, etc. (for lists of prepositions following adjectives, see grammar books; dictionaries also give structural information on the use of adjectives)
  • by a finite that-clause:

We were confident that Karen was still alive. Many adjectives expressing certainty or confidence, such as aware, certain, confident, sure can be used in this way.

 I am anxious that he be/shoud be/?is permitted to resign. Many adjectives expressing volition, like anxious, eager, willing are used with a subjunctive or putative should in the that-clause.

  • by a to-infinitive clause: Bob is slow to react. Bob is sorry to hear it. Bob is hard to convince. Those darts are awkward for a beginner to use.
  • by an ing-clause: I’m busy (with) getting the house redecorated. We’re fortunate (in) having Aunt Agatha as a baby-sitter.
  • by a comparative clause:  It was easier than they say.


On a sentence or clause level you can find adjective phrases in the following syntactic functions:

  • Subject complement:  John was extremely rich indeed / most greatful for your help / busy handing out letters / uncertain what to do / glad to hear from you / better than they say.
  • Object complement: He’s opening his mouth very wide.

You can also find adjectives and adjectives phrases within other phrases:

  • Premodifier of a noun: Well, he’s [a perfectly nice lad].
  • Postmodifier of a pronoun: Was there [anything nice]?
  • Postmodifier of a noun: London is [a city bright with lights].
  • Complement of a preposition: The insults continued [in private].


The following article explains three functions of adjectives and adjective phrases in the English language that students must learn.


Adjectives and adjective phrases perform three main grammatical functions within sentences in the English language. Both native speakers and ESL students must learn and understand the three functions to use adjectives and adjective phrases correctly in both spoken and written English. The three functions of adjectives and adjective phrases are:

  1. Noun phrase modifier
  2. Predicate adjective
  3. Object complement

Adjectives are traditionally defined as “words that describe nouns.” Adjective phrases are defined as phrases that consist of an adjective plus any modifiers or complements such as adverbs and prepositional phrases. For example, the phrases blue, very sad, and afraid of the dark are all adjective phrases.

Adjectives as Noun Phrase Modifiers

The first grammatical function that adjectives and adjective phrases can perform is the noun phrase modifier. Noun phrase modifiers are defined as words and phrases that describe a noun or noun phrase. For example, the following italicized adjectives and adjective phrases function as noun phrase modifiers:

  • My mother planted purple flowers in her garden.
  • The very tiny puppy barked at the cat.
  • The restaurant served plain, tasteless
  • George Washington appointed Edmund Randolph Attorney General.
  • Barack Obama was the president elect.

Adjectives as Predicate Adjectives

The second grammatical function that adjectives and adjective phrases can perform is the predicate adjective. Predicate adjectives are defined as adjectives and adjective phrases that follow a copular or linking verb such as be and become and modifies or describes the subject. For example, the following italicized adjectives and adjective phrases function as predicate adjectives:

  • Under the bed is filthy.
  • The cake tastes sickeningly sweet.
  • My cat is black and brown.
  • Your perfume smells especially musky but very nice.
  • I am fond of English grammar.

Adjectives as Object Complements

The third grammatical function that adjectives and adjective phrases can perform is the object complement. Object complements are defined as nouns, pronouns, noun phrases, adjectives, and adjective phrases that directly follow and modify the direct object. For example, the following italicized adjectives and adjective phrases function as object complements:

  • The farmer painted the barn red.
  • The little girl wanted her room bright pink.
  • Catholics consider saints holy.
  • The jury judged the defendant guilty.
  • My puppy makes me happy.

Although not accepted in standard English, adjectives and adjective phrases also function as verb phrase modifiers and adverbials. For example, the adjective phrase too loud in the sentence He plays his music too loud functions as an adverbial. However, standard prescriptive grammar rules dictate that only the adverb phrase too loudly should function as the adverbial in this instance. Another example is the adjective careful functioning as a verb phrase modifier in the sentence Drive careful. Again, prescriptive rules state that the adverb carefully should function as the verb phrase modifier. However, the use of adjectives and adjective phrases as verb phrase modifiers and adverbials is accepted in many forms of spoken English.

The three functions of adjectives and adjective phrases in the English language are noun phrase modifier, predicate adjective, and object complement. Both native speakers and ESL students must learn and understand the three functions to properly and fully use adjectives and adjective phrases in both spoken and written English.

Hopper, Paul J. A Short Course in Grammar. W.W. Norton & Company: New York, 1999.

Huddleston, Rodney. Introduction to the Grammar of English. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1984.

Adjective Phrase Noun Phrase Modifier Grammar Tree


Adjective Phrase Object Complement


Adjective Phrase Complement


2.4 Teaching Adjectives and Adjective phrases:

        The following may be one of the most common ways of teaching Adjectives and Adjective phrases.

          On the same piece of paper, have students write words that describe them and their personality. It helps if you require students to come up with a specific number of describing words. For example, I require sophomores to use 30 words to describe themselves as this requires the students to really involve some higher order thinking skills and be creative to find words that they may not use every day.

Also, allow students to decorate their shape and allow them to make their project as representative of their individuality as possible.

Once students have satisfied your requirements, you should explain to them that those words that describe people, places, and things are called adjectives.

Generally, after completing this project, students understand the differences between nouns and adjectives, which is the purpose of the teaching adjectives and nouns lesson plan. But this project really lets students be creative, and in some cases, you will see that students have the opportunity to increase their vocabulary and use adjectives that they normally do not use.

Also, students will learn new adjectives from each other as you may not allow students sitting at the same table to use a word more than once. Teachers have the flexibility to place their own requirements and limitations on this project.

(Cited from British Council. Methodology )

2.5 Some basic principles in Teaching Adjectives and Adjective phrases:


Preschoolers and Adjectives

Preschoolers use words to describe people, places, things, ideas, and activities every day. Although explicit language and grammar instruction typically begins after preschool in elementary school, preschool aged students can begin to learn about the most basic parts of speech, or grammatical forms, including nouns, adjectives, and verbs. This lesson plan outlines activities to teach preschool children that adjectives are words that describe nouns.

Discussion and Prior Knowledge

The teacher can introduce the topic of adjectives to the preschool class by asking the students the following questions:

  1. Do you know what an adjective is?
  2. Do you know what it means to describe something?

Most preschoolers will probably answer no to the first question but should be able to answer the second question. For example, the students might say that describing something means telling about it. The students must have prior knowledge about the concept of description before continuing with the rest of the adjective lesson plan. If the students cannot answer question two, then the teacher should review how to describe something.


After the discussion introducing preschoolers to adjectives, the teacher can read one or two books about adjectives to the students. Two excellent titles, both by Brian P. Cleary, for younger students are:

  • Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective?
  • Quirky, Jerky, Extra Perky: More about Adjectives

Both books talk about adjectives as words that describe things, ideas, and living beings, or, in other words, nouns. The preschoolers will love the fun rhymes that are chock-full of silly adjectives such as “Adjectives are words like hairy, scary, cool, and ordinary.” and “They give us lots of great description, like tall, left-handed, young Egyptian.” The illustrations of silly cats with squeaky dogs and hot pink shades with help the preschool aged children learn about adjectives by associating words with pictures.

Adjective Sorting Activity

The Adjective Sorting, or “What Kind of Adjective Is It,” activity helps preschoolers learn to categorize similar adjectives into categories. The students will learn to sort known adjectives into three categories. The materials needed for this preschool activity are:

  1. Adjective photo flashcards
  2. Three baskets
The adjective flashcards should have both pictures and written words of preschool level vocabulary words. Some printable sample flashcards that contain vocabulary words for colors, sizes, and feelings are available for download at Preschool Adjective Flashcards: Colors, Sizes, and Feelings. The teacher should also label each of the three baskets. For example, in the case of the sample adjective flashcards, label the baskets as color, size, and feeling.

To play the Adjective Sorting game, the teacher should first place the three baskets on a table at the front of the classroom and read the labels aloud to the students. The teacher will then randomly choose cards from the deck of adjective flashcards and ask the students to identify the type of adjective. For example, in the case of the sample cards, the teacher would ask, “Is it a color, size, or feeling.” If the teacher chose the happy card, then the question would be, “Is happy a color, size, or feeling?” The preschoolers would then answer, “Happy is a feeling.” After the students correctly identify the type of adjective on the flashcard, the teacher will place the card in the corresponding basket.

The Silly Sentences activity is another fun adjective activity that will help preschool aged students use adjectives to describe people, places, things, and other nouns. The children will learn to think up appropriate (or not so appropriate) adjectives to insert into sentences. The materials needed fro this preschool activity are:


Silly Sentences Activity

Chalkboard or dry erase board

  1. Chalk or dry erase markers

To play the Silly Sentences activity, the teacher should first write a sentence on the board and include blanks in front of the nouns. Some sample sentences are:

  • The _____ man ate the _____ apple in the _____ kitchen.
  • A _____ car crashed into the _____ tree on a _____ morning.
  • My _____ dog _____ stole a _____ toy from my _____ brother.

The teacher will then call on individual students to provide adjectives to fill in the blanks to create silly sentences. Preschoolers will love making and hearing silly sentences like “The purple man ate the yucky apple in the boring kitchen” and “My crazy dog stole a giant toy from my bad brother.” Optional: The teacher can write the silly sentences the class comes up with on blank sheets of paper and have the preschool students draw pictures to illustrate the silly sentences.


At the end of the adjective lesson, the teacher should review what the preschool students learned by asking the following questions:

  1. What is an adjective?
  2. What does it mean to describe something?
  3. Name some words that describe.
  4. What types of words are big, purple, and scared?

The preschool aged children should be able to answer all four questions completely after reading the adjective books Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What Is an Adjective? and Quirky, Jerky, Extra Perky: More about Adjectives by Brian P. Cleary and after playing the Adjective Sorting and Silly Sentences activities. By learning about adjectives as words that describe nouns at an early age in preschool, children will be better prepared for later grammar and language study in elementary school and beyond.


  1. Suggested Exercises and Keys to the exercises in teaching adjectives and adjective phrases:


EXERCISE 1  : Underline the adjectives and adjective phrases in the following sentences and then choose the appropriate letter A-H for each question if the adjective phrases have the function of:

   A: Pre-modifier in noun phrases

   B: Post-modifier in noun phrases

   C: Post-modifier in prepositional phrases

   D: The head of noun phrases

   E: An exclamation

   F: Subject complement

   G: Object complement

   H: Adjunct

   Eg: Have you read anything interesting?

Answer: Have you read anything interesting? à B


  1. Strange, she was surprised.
  2. I think they are doing evrything possible to protect the workers.
  3. A hard worker may well have a soft heart.
  4. The people present are waiting for the result of the present talks.
  5. Wonderful!
  6. I find it difficult to do this exercise.
  7. He sat there as silent as if he were the dumb.
  8. What I would like to do is to go somewhere really quiet.
  9. It burnt the grass black.
  10. The men were eager to begin the climb and they rose at first night.

Suggested answers:

  1. Strange, she was surprised. àF
  2. I think they are doing everything possible to protect the workers. à B
  3. A hard worker may well have a soft heart. à A
  4. The people present are waiting for the result of the present talks.àA
  5. Wonderful ! à E
  6. I find it difficult to do this exercise.à G
  7. He sat there as silent as if he were the dumb.àH
  8. What I would like to do is to go somewhere really quiet.àF
  9. It burnt the grass black.àG
  10. The men were eager to begin the climb and they rose at first night.àF


EXERCISE 2 : Rewrite the following sentences, replacing the relative clauses in each sentence by an adjective phrase , remembering that such a phrase can be realized by a single word.

Eg: 1. With all students who are interested write their name on this list

Answer: With all students interested write their name on this list.

  1. All the women who were present looked up in alarm.
  2. We should call the doctor who is nearest.
  3. We must find the doctor who is concerned.
  4. What are the best seats that are available.
  5. Can you recommend that is really interesting?
  6. I have a problem that is much more complicated than that.
  7. The road that is best to take is the A 40.
  8. You couldn’t find anyone who is more difficult.
  9. I don’t know the name of the people who were involved.


Suggested answers:

  1. All the women present looked up in alarm.
  2. We should call the doctor nearest.
  3. We must find the doctor concerned.
  4. What are the best seats available or available seats.
  5. Can you recommend something really interesting?
  6. I have a problem much more complicated than that.
  7. The best road to take is the A 40.
  8. You couldn’t find anyone more difficult.
  9. I don’t know the name of the people involved.



EXERCISE 3 : Express the following noun phrases differently, using a compound adjective as modifier of the head noun.

Eg: 1. A story is so scarifying that it raises the hair on your head.

Answer: The  story is  hair-scarifying .


  1. Cakes that have been made at home.
  2. a speed that takes your breath away.
  3. Troops that are borne (=transported) by air.
  4. A plain that has been swept by the wind.
  5. The performance that won an award.
  6. A device that saves a great deal of labour.
  7. An activity that consumes too much of your time.


Suggested answers:

2.. home-made                                              5. wind-swept

  1. breath-taking 6. award-winning
  2. airborne 7. labour-saving
  3. time-consuming

EXERCISE 4 : Express the following sentences differently using a participial adjective formed from the noun phrases shown in italics:

Eg:  His face was framed in a great beard.

Answer: He had a great beared face.

                  Or His face was bearded.


  1. You have shown great enterprise in setting up this form.
  2. The newspapers reported all the details of the case.
  3. 3. Conflicts often arise between countries that are neighbours.
  4. We live in an ancient town with a great wall around it.
  5. Dresses with designs of flowers on them are no longer in fashion.


Suggested answers:


  1. You have been very enterprising in setting up this form.
  2. The newspapers have published detailed reports of the case.
  3. 3. Conflicts often arise between neighbouring
  4. We live in an ancient walled town.
  5. Flowered dresses are no longer in fashion.


EXERCISE 5:  Express the sentences differently using a “ relational modifier + adjective”unit, as in the following example.

Eg:  From a human point of view I cannot accept that opinion.

Answer: That opinion is humanly unacceptable.


  1. Drugs are necessary for medical purposes, but if abused they may be dangerous from a social point of view.
  2. The new oral examinations are very good in theory but have proved somewhat time-consuming to administer.
  3. 3. Countries which are advanced in technological matters should help those in which science is under-developed.


Suggested answers:


  1. Drugs are necessary for medical purposes, but if abused they may be socially dangerous .
  2. The new oral examinations are theoretically good but have proved somewhat time-consuming to administer.
  3. 3. Countries which are advanced in technological matters should help those scienctifically under-developed.


EXERCISE 6:  Put the words in the brackets into a right order.


(shoes leatherItalian expensive handmade) (1)

Eg:  (shoes leatherItalian expensive handmade)

Answer: (1) expensive handmade Italian leather shoes


These are my pride and joy. I own a (old beautiful pair) (2) or I did until yesterday. When I discovered that one of the shoes was missing. I had left the shoes on my (doorstep back) (3) to do some gardening. My neighbour has a (dog friendly large) (4) called Sam. When I saw that one of my shoes had disappeared, I knew that Sam had taken it. I can’t say he behaved badly. He just behaved like a dog. Leather look good and tastes good, too.I unwillingly gave Sam the (remaining Italian shoes) (5) and then followed him. I not only found one ( Italian unchewed shoe) (6) but also a pile of things Sam had been borrwing, including my wife’s (slippery fur lined red) (7), which Sam had tried to have for dinner.


Suggested answers:


  1. beautiful old pair
  2. back doorstep
  3. large friendly dog
  4. remaining Italian shoe
  5. inchewed Italian shoe
  6. red fur-lined slippers



EXERCISE 7:  Add modifiers to the one-word adjective phrases in these sentences to form adjective phrases with quite heavy modification, choosing them from the following list:

Eg:  She found it difficult to say goodbye.

Answer: It was difficult for her to say goodbye.

  1. 1. You were very kind to come.
  2. I think it important that you take some exercise everyday.
  3. You were wrong to ride your bike across Mr Taylor’s garden.
  4. I think you were greedy when you took the last cake.
  5. I find it unacceptable that newspapers publish this kind of story.
  6. you were being careless when you dropped all those plates.
  7. You don’t need to have all these books at the start of your course.


Suggested answers:

  1. 1. It was very kind of you to come.
  2. It’s important for you to take some exercise everyday.
  3. It was wrong of you to ride your bike across Mr Taylor’s garden.
  4. It was greedy of you to take the last cake.
  5. It’s unacceptable for newspapers to publish this kind of story.
  6. It was careless of to drop all those plates.
  7. It isn’t necessary for you to have all these books at the start of your course.


EXERCISE 8:  Rewrite these sentences using “It………….. (adjective) for/of……………..

Beautifully, essentially, ideally, imaginatively, pleasantly, ferociously, peacefully, cruelly


  1. 1. The new cultural centre is an …………………………….. international project.
  2. It will be a style…………………………… different from the usual urban architecture.
  3. It will be …………………… placed outside the city, and ……………….. surrounded by fields and trees.
  4. Some traditionalists have been…………………………critical of the design.
  5. The architect has said: “We have tried to combine the …………………..old with the …………………new.”


Suggested answers:

This exercise invites free answers.


EXERCISE 9:  Complete the following sentences by adding adjective phrases:


Eg:  We were ……………………… last weekend.

Answer: We were delighted to see you last weekend.


  1. 1. It was ………………………, but I can’t remember anything after that until I was being helped out of the car.
  2. You are……………………. Around the farm at any time you want.
  3. The agreement is …………………………………………. From my employer.
  4. The increase in fighting is …………………………………….in the area.
  5. I’ll be …………………………………….. what he has to say.
  6. I’m …………………………………………. at the moment.
  7. The government seems certain to raise taxses soon, but they are not……………………………….
  8. He’s in such good form that he’s ………………………………………………

Suggested answers:

  1. 1. aware of braking hard interested to hear
  2. welcome to walk around 6. busy preparing a lecture
  3. conditional on obtaining permission 7. keen to admit it
  4. certain to alarm Vietnamese troops 8. almost certain of winning tomorrow’s race


EXERCISE 10:  Complete the following sentences with the expressions in the list and with your own words which make adjective phrases:

       ashamed to                delighted to               fortunate to

       careful to                 determined to             likely to

       certain to                 eager to                   not prepared to

       ready to                   reluctant to               willing to


Eg:  Mary always speeds on the expressway.She’s ……………………………………………….

Answer: She’s certain to get stooped by the police.

              Or She’s likely to get a ticket.


  1. There have been a lot of burglars in my neighbourhood recently, so I have started taking precautions. Now Iam always very………………………………………………
  2. I’ve worked hard all day long. Enough’s enough. I’m ………………………………………………..
  3. Next month I’m going to a family reunion – the first one in 25 years. I’m very much looking forwar to it. I’m …………………………………………………….
  4. Some children grow up in happy homes. My family, however, has always been supportive and loving. I’m………………………………………………..
  5. Joe’s run out of money again., but he doesn’t want anyone to know his situation. He needs money disparately but he’s………………………………………………………..
  6. Rosa wants to become an astronaut. That has been her dream since she was a liitle girl. She has been working hard toward her goal and is……………………………………
  7. Peter was offered an excellent jobin another state, but his wife and children don’t want to move. He’s not sure what to do. Although he would like the job, he’s……………………………………………………….
  8. At the street market, I battered with the seller over the price of the garment. H ewanted $20. I offered $ 10. In the end he was………………………………………..
  9. Jason is going fishing today. He’s …………………………………………………
  10. Our neighbours had extra tickets to the ballet, so they invited us to go with them. Since both of us love the ballet, we were……………………………………………….

Suggested answers:

This exercise invites free answers.



3.1 The subject:

The subject for this study consists of 100 participants placed into one group: The group is composed of 100 students at Tuy Phuoc I High school. All the students follow the same course of English.


3.2 Data collection:

3.2.1 The questionnaires:

To obtain data for the research, one written questionnaires was administered to the subject. In order that the respondents could be free to express their specific thoughts about the items raised in the questionnaires.

Questionnaire consisting of 5 questions was delivered to 100 students of English. All questions were written in simple English. These questionnaires are included in the appendix.


3.2.2. The class observation

Parallel with the survey questionnaire for students, the method of observation is also applied in this study. The observation has been carried out in some classes I’m in charge with different levels at Tuy Phuoc I High school as set out above. Among the classes I observed, there was one class of eleventh year  and one class of twelfth year.


3.3 Data Analysis

The remarks and perception made by the students in response to the questionnaires were consolidated and categorized by the researcher. These results were subsequently tabulated information gained through and converted to percentages for analysis.

Q.1 Have you ever felt embarrassed  when  using some  Adjectives or Adjective phrases?

Q.1 is raised to investigate whether the students are embarrassed when using some adjectives or adjective phrases or not .The results display that just 15% of the students said “rarely,” 50% of the students (most of whom are normal and weak at English) said “always”, 15% of the students said “sometimes”  and 20% of the students said “ often”. It’s very easy to understand because the students’ abilities are limited, especially on vocabulary. Some students are so weak at grammar and vocabulary that they find it difficult to say or  write any sentences.They even don’t know very well about the uses of adjectives or adjective phrases .

Q.2 Do you find it confused when deciding the positions of words in an adjective phrase ?

Rarely 15%
Sometimes 15%
Often 30%
Always 40%


The results show that 15% of the students said “rarely”; The same number of the students said that they “sometimes”find it confused when deciding the positions of words in an adjective phrase ; 30% of the students said that they “often” do it and 40% said they “always” have difficulty deciding the positions of words in an adjective phrase. Obviously, most of the students even don’t know any parts of speech, so they are embarrased when writing  adjective or noun phrases.


Q.3 Do the teachers explain the parts of speech words to you in class ?

Yes, very often 90%
Sometimes 5%
Rarely 3%
Never 2%

To investigate if the teacher explain the parts of speech to the students, Q.3 is asked. The results show that a considerable number of students (90%) said that the teachers explain the words to them very often. 5% say that sometimes their teachers do this. . (5%) said “rarely”.Only 2% confirm they never get any explanation from the teachers when they ask for help. Therefore, it’s not the teachers’fault for the students’ weakness. It’s because of the students’ perceptivity.


Q.4 Do your teachers often ask you to do exercises or activities related to Adjective or Adjective phrases?










In responding to Q.4, the students clearly supply us with the information about the exercises or activities that their teachers often deal with when teaching adjectives or adjective phrases . The results show that : over one-third of the students said “Yes” (30%) because lots of teachers think that this will give their students clear understanding in order that they can use adjectives or adjective phrases correctly in contexts and allow the students to write and speak on their own , which they find it very confidential.  The same number (30%) said “sometimes”. Another 30% said their teachers “rarely” ask them to do exercises or activities on adjectives or adjective phrases and explain them clearly to them. Only 10% say “ never”.

Q.5 Do you find it important to master  how to use adjectives or adjective phrases correctly in speaking and writing?










Q.5 concentrates on the students’ thought about the importance of using adjectives or adjective phrases in correct contexts. Some of them confirm that they find it important to mater how to use adjectives or adjective phrases correctly. A considerable number of students said that it is not imprtant. And the rest (30%) said that they had no idea about this. The results found seem relevant to the number of students who said using adjectives or adjective phrases in correct contexts is important (35%) and not important (40%).This is because they are too weak to learn English and the need of accuracy is not what they are trying to obtain. As can be heard from most of the teachers of English, students study English at high school because they are forced to learn, not because they need to do it.

¯ Through survey questionnaires and class observation we recognize the important role of teaching adjectives or adjective phrases . Most of teachers use the communicative approach to explain. According to me, teachers should explain clearly to help students understand what adjectives or adjective phrases are and how they are used correctly in contexts. Teachers should give as many examples and activities as they can to make sure that the students know how to use them.  After they study the new items of language, teachers give the students more chance to practice using them in order to help them to improve the communicative competence by asking the students to do some homework…Furthermore, In all periods I visited, whenever the teachers use interesting activities to present the new vocabulary, the atmosphere in class immediately becomes eager and enjoyable. However, they don’t often do this and some others even consider it unimportant . They say that it takes much time and the students must find out the usage by themselves. In practice, most of students are not hard-working enough to do this. In short, teaching adjectives or adjective phrases is one of the most important parts the teachers have to explain to the students. So it is clear that Vocabulary,in general and teaching adjectives or adjective phrases in particular , plays an important role in students’ learning English and teacher’ teaching English.


III.  Suggested  some techniques or activities in teaching adjectives and adjective phrases:


  1. Adjective alphabet











With low to pre-intermediate learners you can challenge them to alter a simple sentence by adding a different adjective each time: one adjective for each letter of the alphabet.
For example: Write the sentence “He’s just a/an _______ baby.” on the board
Then say: “He’s just an amazing baby.” Ask another student to continue with an adjective beginning with the letter b.

S1: He’s just a beautiful baby

S2: He’s just a common baby.

and so on…


  1. Think of…

You can ask learners to provide examples themselves of people or things which have the quality of the adjectives you have taught. Imagine you’ve taught adjectives to describe a person’s appearance (to a low level group for example). Ask the students to come up with examples of:

  • a handsome movie actor
  • a beautiful singer
  • a tall politician
  • an ugly old man
  • a short actress
  • a middle-aged TV actor

A variation of this activity would be to have students do the activity in small groups. Have each group read out their answers in front of the class. For every example that a group has which no other group has written, the group scores a point. The group with the most points at the end wins.


  1. Three adjectives

Penny Ur suggests a great activity with adjectives, where the teacher gives the students three adjectives and the students must come up with words that these three adjectives could describe. So, for the adjectives long, difficult and boring a group of students I had recently came up with the following nouns: a test, a lecture, school, Monday mornings, the Lord of the Rings films (I didn’t agree with the last one!).

A variation of this activity could be two adjectives joined with either AND or BUT. Example pairs of adjectives:

  • long and difficult
  • quick but complicated
  • important but dangerous
  • green and happy
  1. Before or after?

With advanced classes, you can draw attention to adjectives that can go in more than one position and discuss the difference in meaning. Here are two examples:

The police called a meeting to listen to the (1) ________ parents (2) ________
What is the difference between placing concerned in position 1 or position 2?

          We only want to talk with (1) ___________ people (2) _____________.
What is the difference between placing concerned in position 1 or position 2?


  1. Using texts

After working on a text for comprehension, you could instruct advanced learners to find all the adjectives and discuss their position. Which ones are attributive and which are predicative? Is it possible to change certain sentences so that the adjectives are in a different position? What effect does this have on the text?


  1. Jazz up a text

Another option is to take a relatively simple text and ask students to add more adjectives to it to “jazz it up”. The key here would be to choose a short text. Try taking a short text from an elementary coursebook to use with intermediate students.


  1. Personality questionnaire

One way of practising adjectives and prepositions combinations is by having the students personalise them. Here are example “personality questionnaires” that students could either 1) fill out on their own and then discuss or 2) use them to interview another student:

  • I get angry with…easily.
  • I’m impatient with…
  • I’m always honest with…
  • I try to be kind to…
  • I’m sensitive to…
  1. Find someone who…

The old favourite find someone who works really well with adjectives. Here are two examples of “adjective” find someone who activities:

(low level):

Find someone who…

  • has a black cat
  • drives a red car
  • is wearing white socks
  • has green eyes

(intermediate +): Adjective + preposition
Find someone who… 

  • was pleased with their last test
  • finds it difficult to study
  • is anxious about exams
  • finds irregular verbs easy to remember

(Penny Ur, Andrew Wright Five Minute Activities, Cambridge University Press)

  1. Adjectives : Comparative and superlative adjectives – tips and activities

Author: Kerry G Maxwell and Lindsay Clandfield

Type: reference material

Use of comparatives

It’s tempting with comparatives to focus merely on the form. After all, the rules aren’t that difficult to explain. But be careful not to oversimplify the use. For example, we often assume that comparatives are used only to compare two things.

I am taller than my brother.

But we can use it to compare more than two things.

I am taller than my brother and my sister.

We can also use the comparative without stating the other thing if it’s understood.

I feel better (than I did before).

Maybe it is best to draw students’ attention to these uses of comparatives if they come up in texts or class work.



Don’t forget that in many languages there is no equivalent of the superlative. So something what seems completely normal to you as a proficient user of English may be in fact very alien to an English language learner. Be prepared for mistakes like He is the more intelligent. The film has the bigger budget in history.

Even though we say “use THE with superlatives”, remember that there are occasions when we don’t (see explanation above). So this rule of thumb does have its limitations.


9.1. Activity: The people in the room


Using the people in the class is a logical place to start with comparatives. A simple activity is to put students into groups of four. Tell them to make as many true sentences as they can comparing each other using the following phrases.

lives close to school; has big family; young

has been learning English long; gets up early; goes to bed late

Set a time limit. Then ask students to read out some of their sentences. E.g. Marta lives closer to the school than Juan and Pablo.


9.2. Activity: My family


With lower level students, you can combine superlatives with a revision of family vocabulary into a speaking activity. Ask students to secretly choose five of the following categories and write a name for each one on a piece of paper.

  • The oldest person in my family
  • The youngest person in my family
  • The friendliest person in my family
  • The funniest person in my family
  • The nicest person in my family
  • The meanest person in my family etc. (you can think of other categories)

Put students in pairs. Tell each student to ask questions about the other’s list of names and find out more information.

Is Johann the oldest person in your family?

No, he isn’t. He’s the youngest!

How old is he?

He’s my nephew. He’s only two years old.

This works well in classes where the students have/know about their extended families.


9.3. Activity: Life in the capital


Comparing city life to country life used to be the mainstay of coursebook activities that focused on the comparative. I’ve found, as a teacher, that most of my students have no idea at all of what life is really like in the country (and neither do I actually), which has made these activities fall flat somewhat. However, most people will have something to say about life in the capital city versus life in another part of the country.

You can set this up as a role play. Ask students to work in pairs, A and B. The As live in the capital of their country and think it’s far superior to life outside the capital. The Bs think the opposite. Give them time to prepare several reasons and then tell them to compare. Who has the most convincing arguments? You can then develop this into a whole class discussion.


9.4. Activity: Mobile phones

Ask students to work in small groups. Tell them to take out their mobile phones (be prepared for the looks of surprise, students are far more used to being told to put their mobile phones away) and to “present” their mobile phones to each other. You could write the following information on the board to help:

When did you buy it? How much did it cost?

Is it your first phone?

What do you like about it?

What don’t you like about it?

Once they’ve done that, ask students to make comparisons of the mobile phones. Set a target of, for example, eight sentences comparing the different phones. For example:

Suzy’s phone is bigger than mine.

Tanya’s phone was cheaper than Suzy’s.

Enzo’s phone is more interesting than Giovanni’s.

Of course this activity works best if several people have mobile phones!


9.5. Activity: The coldest place I’ve been to


The superlative can regularly go with the present perfect (as in The best film I’ve ever seen was…). You could use this sentence stem to make a questionnaire. Make a worksheet with several examples. Here are some based around the theme of ‘weather’.

  • The coldest place I’ve been to was…
  • The hottest place I’ve ever visited was…
  • The worst storm I’ve ever seen was in…
  • The strangest weather I’ve ever experienced was…

Put students in pairs and tell them to interview their partner. To do this they must make questions, e.g. What’s the worst storm you’ve ever seen? They can also ask follow-up questions to find out more information. Do feedback on this as a whole class. Other thematic questionnaires of this kind could be:

Emotional experiences

  • The most frightened I’ve ever been…
  • The happiest moment I’ve ever had…
  • The most nervous I’ve ever been…

Musical experiences (better with teens):

  • The best concert I’ve ever been to…
  • The worst song I’ve ever heard…
  • The longest time I’ve ever danced…
  • The best CD I’ve ever bought…

Places in your life

  • The most dangerous place I’ve been in…
  • The cheapest restaurant I’ve eaten in…
  • The most boring town I’ve ever visited…

9.6. Activity: Award ceremony
You can also practise superlatives by organizing a class awards ceremony. Have awards for different categories:

  • the student with the nicest smile
    • the friendliest student
    • the hardest working student
    • the earliest student
    • the best-dressed student
    • the most talkative student
    • the quietest student etc. (try to have only nice categories!)

You could either decide on the winners yourself or put the awards to a secret vote. Make sure that everybody gets an award for something (meaning that if you have 20 plus students you might have to have more than one recipient for an award). Make the awards on little stars. Hold a ceremony in which you distribute them to great fanfare. This activity works best at the end of the year, or the end of a


            The following illustrations of the some lessons in grade 10, and 12 are from the current English program.




























(Tieng Anh 10 – BASE BOOK- Unit 16)

UNIT 16:      


  1. Objectives:
  2. Education Aims:– Students know how to pronounce the sound /ʒ / and / ʃ / correctly.

– Students revise:      – Comparatives and superlatives.

  1. Knowledge:

+ Language: – Pronunciation: / ʒ / and/ ʃ / .

– Comparatives and superlatives.

– Making comparisons.

  1. Skills:     + Speaking:   – Work in pairs to discuss the exercises.

+ Reading:    – Read words and sentences aloud.

– Read the sentences silently to do the exercises.

  1. Anticipated problems:

– Students may forget the knowledge about comparisons.

III. Teaching aids: –  board, chalk, textbook.

  1. Procedures:


                      Teacher’s activities                  Students’ activities
1. Homework checking: ( 5mins)

– Ask two sts to read the description of the chart they wrote at home aloud.

– Ask another st to give remarks.

– Check and give  marks.

2. Pronunciation:( 10 mins)

Aims: to introduce two  sounds /ʒ / and / ʃ / and help sts to practise these sounds.

a. Write two sounds on the board and pronounce them clearly twice, then ask sts to repeat.

– Tell sts how to pronounce these sounds accurately.

/ ʃ /  : a voiceless sound

/ ʒ /  : a voiced sound

– Ask sts to pay attention to the length of two sounds.

– Ask them to look at the textbook, listen and repeat.


– Then ask sts to work in pairs to read the words again so that they can check for each other.

– Move around to help .

– Ask two sts to read again and give remarks.

b. Ask sts to look at sentences in page 175 in the book.

– Ask them to work in pairs to read the sentences and then find out  the words containing sound /ʒ / and sound / ʃ / .

– Ask them to work in 2 minutes.

– Move around to conduct the activity.

– Ask one st to report and other sts to give remarks.

– Check and give the correct answers.

– Ask some sts to read these sentences aloud.

– Listen and give remarks.

3. Grammar: ( 29 mins)

 Aims: to revise comparatives and superlatives, and making comparisons, and have sts do EX1,EX2 and EX3.

a. Comparatives and superlatives:

– Firstly ask sts to look at the examples and revise the comparative and superlative form of the adjectives.

E.g: My house is smaller than your house.

        My house is the smallest in this street.

        Exercise 1 is more difficult than exercise 2.

        Exercise 1 is the most difficult in this book.

– Ask sts to tell the T the comparative and superlative form of the adjectives.

– Listen to the S and give remarks.

– Notes:

Irregular adjs 

good     =>    better                =>      the best

bad      =>     worse               =>      the worst

far       =>     further/farther =>   the furthest/farthest

– Ask sts to do EX 1.

+ Exercise 1:

– Ask sts to do Ex 1 in pairs and then share the answers with their friends.

– Move round to help if necessary.

– Ask some pairs to report.


– Check and give remarks.


+ Exercise 2:

– Ask sts to read the requirement and the example carefully.

– Ask sts to do the Ex individually.

– Move round to help if necessary.

– Ask sts to share their ideas with their friends.

– Ask two sts to write the sentences on the board.

– Ask other sts to give remarks.


b. Making comparisons:

– Ask sts to EX3.

+ Exercise 3:

– Ask sts to do Ex3 in pairs and then share the answers with their friends.

– Move round to help if necessary.

– Ask some sts to report in  front of the whole class.


– Check and give remarks.

5. Homework ( 1 min)

– Part B( page 91 –  workbook)



– Two sts read the announcements aloud.


– Give remarks.

– Listen to the teacher.




– Write down two sounds.

– Listen to the teacher and repeat.

– Look at the book , listen and repeat.

/ ʒ /                  / ʃ /

       television           shop  

       pleasure            machine

       measure            Swedish


– Read these words in pairs and check for their partners.


– Look at the book and work in pairs.

– Answers:

/ ʒ /                     / ʃ /

              pleasure               shouldn’t

              Asia                      shop       

              illusions               washing


– Read the sentences.










– Listen to the T.

– Look at the examples.

– One st tells the T the comparative and superlative form of the adjectives:


Adjectives      Comparatives     Superlatives

Short adjs          …..- er       the …..- est

long                  longer          the longest

hot                    hotter           the hottest

….                      …..                       ………

Long adjs         more …..            the most ….

expensive        more expensive   the most ex.

  …….                ……….                  ………..




– Some sts report.

1. young => younger => the youngest

2. happy => happier => the happiest

3. big     => bigger   => the biggest

4. busy   => busiest  => the busiest


Listen and correct their work if necessary.


– Read the requirement and the example carefully.

– Do the Exercise individually.

2. My sister is younger than me.

3. Who is the oldest in the class?

4. Concord used to be the fastest passenger plane in the world.


– Listen to the teacher.




– Do the exercise in pairs.

– Some sts report:

1. v                    2. so                  3. more

4. the                 5. the                 6. v

7. than              8. of                   9. v


– Listen and correct their work if necessary.








1. Short adjectives

(1 or 2 syllables)







-(i)er …









the -(i)est …

the oldest

the biggest

the longest

the largest

the earliest

the heaviest

2. Long adjectives (2/3 or 4 syllables)






more …


more modern

more serious

more expensive

more interesting

more comfortable


the most …


the most modern

the most serious

the most expensive

the most interesting

the most comfortable

3. irregular adjectives




(irregular form)






(irregular form)


the best

the worst

the furthest/farthest





(Tieng Anh 12- Advanced BOOK- Unit 13)

Unit 13 :              

(Language focus)

  1. Aims : Helping students practise play, do or go + sports/ games

Helping students how to use double comparison

  1. Method : Communicative approach
  2. Teaching Aids : English Textbook 12 , pictures, posters
  3. Procedure

Stabilization (1’)

Check – up (5’)



Warm – up (5’)

                     Game: Slap the board

–      Cards with the names of the sports or games

–      Pictures of some sports and games








New lesson

Word Study (10’)

a.  Match the verbs play, do or go with the sports and games.( wordlists on page 171)

* Answers

play                 do                       go






Volleyball        Aerobics












b. Answer the questions

(Questions on page 172)


     Grammar:       Double comparison

a. Presentation (4’)

– Pictures of the forest in 3 periods



 – comparative + and + comparative

* Short adj + ER + and + Short adj + ER.

* More  and  more + long adj

 – the + comparative, the + comparative

–         The + short adj + Er ,

–         The + more + long adj,

–         The + more + s + v + O


b. Exercises

*1. Blank – filling (7’)


1. more and more difficult

2. worse and worse

3. higher and higher

4. hotter and hotter

5. more and more tired

6. better and better


*2. Sentence contribution (8’)


1. The harder we work, the more money we can earn

2. The bigger the apartment (is), he more expensive the rent (is).

3. The more exciting the game is, the more crowed the stadium will get.

4. The earlier they come, the better seats they can get.

5. The sooner we set off, the sooner we will arrive.

*3 More exercises (4’)

* Choose the best answer.

1. …we can finish the project, …we can start the next one

a. the soonest….the sooner

b. the sooner…the sooner

c. the sooner… the most sooner

d. the soonest….the soonest

2. the younger you are ,…..it is to learn

a. easier  b.you are easier c.the easier d. the easy

3. Viet Nam becomes …..to foreign tourists

a. most and most attractive

b. the more attractive

c. much and more attractive

d. more and more attractive

4. ……………the worse I seem to feel

a. When I take more medicine

b. The more medicine I take

c. Taking more of the medicine

d. More medicine taken

Homework (1’)

–         Learn by heart play, do or go + sports/ games

–         Review how to use double comparison

–         Prepare Unit 14 – Reading











Wresting                              Hockey


T: stick the cards with the names of sports and games  on the board

T: have two Ss. from two teams stand against the board (runners)

T:  show  pictures of sports and games  one by one

T: have Ss from each team try to match the sports and games  given with the suitable cards on the board and then shout to the runner so that he/she can slap the right answer

–         the team with the most correct answers win the game

T: base on the pictures, ask ss to give the Vietnamese equivalents of the sports and games

T: give feedback



·        Group work

T: divide the class into 8 groups and give each group a poster

Ss: work in group to put the words into the correct column

–         the two first finished poster will be stuck on the board

T: give feedback

T: ask some questions to lead in the part b:

–         Do you often play sports or games?

–         Which sports or games do you like best?







·        Group work

Ss: ask and answer the questions in groups

T: go around to give help if needed

Ss: compare their answers with other groups

T: correct mistakes if necessary



·        Class work



6 years ago               3 years ago                  now


T: display 3 pictures and ask ss:

– What do you think about when seeing these pictures?

Ss: can answer anything they see in the pictures or they can compare them

T: give the possible answer

– Forests have been destroyed more and more seriously

T: introduce the structures Double comparison and have ss give more examples







·        Pair work

Ss: fill in each blank with the double comparative of one of the words in the box

Ss: exchange their answers with other pairs after finishing

T: give feedback






·        Group work

Ss:  rewrite the sentences, using the structure: the + comparative, the + comparative

T: have ss write the answers on the board

T: give feedback









– Poster




·        Individual work

Ss: do the exercise

T: check and give feedback


1. b

2. c

3. d

4. b

  1. Complete the sentences. Each time use the comparative form of one of the words in the list. Use than where necessary:

                relaxed, intelligent, wide, confident, simple, peaceful, important, nice, alike, high.

  1. This exercise is too difficult. I think you should make it_______.
  2. I feel much_______ now that the exams are over.
  3. The last exam was quite easy and I began to feel _______ about my results.
  4. In some parts of the country, prices are_______
  5. In my thinking, health and happiness are_______
  6. Our new car is a little_______ our old one, but still fits easily into the garage.
  7. Can you think of anything _______ to say?
  8. I like living in the countryside. It’s _______ living in a big city.
  9. Indian food is_______ Chinese, I think.
  10. Now that they had both had their hair cut, the twins looked even _______ usual.
  11. Write the superlative form of the words in brackets.
  12. That film was_______ film I’ve ever seen, (boring)
  13. It’s been_______ day in London for 35 years, (hot)
  14. The telephone is one of_______ inventions ever, (useful)
  15. Some people now consider her to be_______ figure in British politics, (confident)
  16. They’ve got a lot of money. They’re_______ club in the country, (rich)
  17. _______ ancient Indian burial ground is near Austin, Texas. (recently/ discovered)
  18. This is_______ I’ve ever got up. (early)
  19. I’ve got_______ computer in the world! (powerful)
  20. Who is_______ student in the class? (clever)
  21. The factory uses_______ production methods, (modern)



We surveyed 100 students (Grade 11) in my school to determine to what extent the uses of adjectives and adjective phrases are taught and which resources are most often used. The survey also requested demographic information about the respondents and their ESL programs, classes and students, methods of teaching, and participants’ attitudes. The respondents from approximately half the programs offer stand-alone pronunciation courses, and the balance reported that they integrate  teaching adjectives and adjective phrases  in their general ESL classes. The majority of respondents said that it was important to teach adjectives and adjective phrases at all levels, although few teachers have special training in this area. Resources preferred by the participants are discussed with regard to their emphases on segmental and supsegmental aspects of adjectives and adjective phrases .

Most of the students I  have been in charge can do the exercises on adjectives and adjective phrases rather well . The following table shows the results of  a fifteen-minute test  I’ve especially designed for my students in the school year  2010-2011.






Number of students




Fairly good






Too weak

11 A1 48 23 18 5 2 0
 11A4 42 16 14 10 2 0





So far, I have made a relatively detailed exploration of the uses of adjectives and adjective phrases. As discussed in the assignment, in order to use an adjective or an adjective phrase correctly, we have to know its definitions, functions and uses in practice.

The findings in the investigation lead to a conclusion that the current published books satisfy the requirements of the teachers and students. Students’ answers show that most of them want to be taught about the uses of  of adjectives and adjective phrases, but the teachers are not able to meet those for several reasons: the choice of source, lack of time, lack of flexible application to the syllabus, lack of facilities and so on, in which the choice or the sources is considered one of the greatest difficulties. A detailed personal recommendation is focused on the current published materials – Tieng Anh 10 and 12. The exercises suggested may help the teachers of English  solve one of the difficulties they are meeting: How to  help their students use adjectives and adjective phrases correctly ? With these in her hand, a flexible teacher can create or exchange ways of teaching vocabulary, especially adjectives and adjective phrases according to her students’ needs or levels, to their teaching situation in order to aim at improving the efficiency of ELT for students.




In comparison with the use of Vietnamese adjective phrases, functionally and structurally, they are similar to each other. However, they have some differences. And sometimes much more . Therefore, it is the teachers’ duty that helps students master the uses of adjectives and adjective phrases so that the students can use them correctly in contexts.

In order to teach  adjectives and adjective phrases more effectively, teachers need to include explanation and examples, and regard if the students understand the meanings of the adjectives and adjective phrases  and use them correctly in particular contexts.

With good sources from the methodology, the teachers may make their writing and speaking lessons easier for their students to learn.This helps the students make sure that they can write and speak what they want naturally without being afraid of making mistakes.

If the teachers may be provided with some more time in class or more creative in their teaching (by using various techniques ,activities and a large number of relating exercises which are used frequently and creatively), they can  make teaching and learning easier, clearer, more interesting and successful.

The usesof adjectives and adjective phrases are still various and complex that they need sharing and understanding deeply. I have tried to give some basic aspects of the uses of adjectives and adjective phrases. In addition, I’ve suggested some techniques , activities and exercises for mycolleages to teach them . It may be not full and perfect and I hope colleagues and learners of English can give some comments on the topic.

Thank you for reading it !




  1. Adrian Teach English. Cambridge University Press in association with The British Council.
  2. Jeremy Harmer. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Longman.
  3. Joanna Baker – Heather Westrup. The English Language Teacher’s Handbook. VSO
  4. Hien, Nguyen Thu (2000).Methodology.
  5. Penny Ur. A Course In Language Teaching. Presented by The British Council.
  6. Janes Willis. Teaching English through English.
  7. Bibber, Douglas;Johnasson,Stag;Leech,Grammar,Conrad,Susan;Finnegan, E; and Quirk, Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English, University College London,1999.
  8. Frank,M., Modern English, A Practical reference guide, New York University,1986.
  9. Hewing,R.,Advanced Grammar in Use, Cambridge University Press,1999.
  10. Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary; Vietnamese –English Dictionary; Google.com. vn.




















The purpose of this questionnaire is to find out some information about the using communicative approach in dialogue and grammar lesson. Your responses are very important to the success of the survey. The data will be used only for the purpose of research, not for any other purposes. Your cooperation will be highly appreciated.


Your grade: 10                              11                12  



Please put one tick (ü ) next to your choice in answering the following questions.


Q.1 Have you ever felt embarrassed  when  using some  Adjectives or Adjective phrases?

 Rarely                          Sometimes                    Often                  Always


Q.2 Do you find it confused when deciding the positions of words in an adjective phrase ?

 Rarely                          Sometimes                    Often                  Always


Q.3 Do the teachers explain the parts of speech of words to you in class ?

 Yes,very often              Sometimes                    Rarely                Never


Q.4 Do your teachers often ask you to do exercises or activities related to Adjective or Adjective phrases?

 Yes, very often                    Sometimes      Rarely               Never


Q.5 Do you find it important to master  how to use adjectives or adjective phrases correctly in speaking and writing?

 Important                              Not important    No idea              Not interesred in




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